Diane Dixon thinks of herself as a friend, first. She’s the one who helps people figure things out when they get a tough diagnosis and wonder, what do I do now? A FaithHealthNC Connector, Diane knows exactly what to do: connect the dots and link patients with volunteers and churches who can help them work through health challenges, from long-term illnesses and stroke to heart attack and cancer. FaithHealthNC is a dynamic partnership between faith communities, health systems and other healthcare providers focused on improving healthBgetting patients to the right door at the right time, ready to be treated and never alone.
Diane knows what it’s like to be alone. Her husband was diagnosed in 2009 with a cancerous brain tumor. Even with her medical background, she was overwhelmed. Eventually, she became the go-to person for other families navigating brain cancer. For her, it was a calling. “It’s odd. I wanted to start an organization just like FaithHealth,” she muses. “I had been praying about it but didn’t know how much I could do since my husband was sick. This is exactly what I wanted to see happen.” When the hospital bills were paid by the Mother’s Day Offering, she felt it was a sign. “It was a God Thing. We never knew when we gave to the fund all those years that we would be blessed by it too. I wanted to give back.”
Connectors like Diane help the patient and family organize healthcare information into a book that includes a list of medicines, summaries of doctors’ visits, medical information and to-dos. Connectors assist with transportation to and from doctors= appointments, often attending as a second set of ears, advocate for patients, build wheelchair ramps and supply meals. Bottom line, Diane trains her volunteers to help patients survive not only the trauma of illness but also the stresses of navigating the medical system.
“Mother Teresa is my hero,” Diane concludes. “She went outside the walls of the Catholic Church to do her hands-on work. We help patients feel like they have their feet on the ground. It’s truly a mission.”
The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. – Mother Teresa